Race Week

It's race week! Sunday is the big day and I'm in full taper mode. Tapering is hard work. It's a period of time before an endurance effort where you reduce volume, allow the body to repair and rebuild and prepare mentally for the big day. Here are a couple of objectives (per Mark Allen):

  1. Maintaining intensity while reducing the length or volume of the workload
  2. Allowing the body to rebuild quickly (one to two days) after higher intensity workloads
  3. Reducing the stress hormones that affect muscle performance; ultimately eliminating muscle soreness and heaviness
  4. Maximizing muscle and liver glycogen stores
  5. Allowing the body to repair and rebuild so the power output is maximal on race day
  6. Performing recovery workouts
  7. Maintaining "normal" number of training sessions per week
  8. Fueling properly
  9. Preparing mentally

Monday ----------
Slept in! Well, until 6:30am anyway. Ace and I went out in the boat to Masonboro for a few hours.  My workout was a 300 yard walk across the island - from soundside to oceanfront. Ah! We spent the morning throwing the ball for Sugaree. Enjoyed plentiful sunshine and salt and fresh air. 

3:40pm Went to see the Great Gatsby. Visited with friends on the front porch and at the Brassierie.

Tuesday -----------

5:00am. Woke up with a nagging sadness.  Went to the bike track - which is really the parking lot of a local mall. It's lighted and flat and the road less traveled at 6:00am. Did 30 minutes around the parking lot - playing with gears and listening to music on the bike - a rare treat. I had Bad by U2 on repeat.

1:00p Still sad. Feel like I could cry at anything - but can't. Distract myself with laundry, work projects and cleaning out my sock drawer. Really.

2:00p Coaching Call with Stacey! An instant pick-me-up. We work through my race plan, discussing everything from what to eat 24 hours ahead of time to what I'm going to think about during the swim bike and run. She recognizes that I have the taper blues - and it's a good thing. She says I'm ready and wants me to empty the well on the run. Yeah, Baby!

Mental Training: Writing down song lyrics on the course maps. Encouraging mantras when the mind monkeys come calling.

4:00p Drop off my bike at Jen's. Coach Stacey has encouraged me to bring more bottles on the bike. Jen is going to use her mechanic skills to attach my new XLAB Super Wing - which will eventually hold two bottles and my tire changing gear. It was the BEST GIFT EVER from the YDubTriClub. It's going to be my saving grace in this race and all my B2B full training.

5:30p  Teach a spin class - the Happy Ride. A tour across North Carolina and back in one hour. I teach "off the bike" which really means I sit on the bike like it's a stool and coach the riders to fly on the flats, use the imagine Pinehurst and Sanford as rolling hill repeats and push hard up the Blue Ridge Mountains. Gets my mind off my taper blues and makes me want to go the distance.

WEDNESDAY  --------

4:35am     Wake Up. Head to Fit Center to sub for a spin class. Spin Easy.

6:30am     Head Home. Eat Breakfast. Work projects. Clean another drawer.

8:15am    Another Spin Class.

10:00a     Massage, Baby! Much needed massage at Massage Envy at Mayfaire. Ask for Michelle. She rocks.

11:30a     Start packing list.

3:30p      Picked up my bike from Jen's and took it to TrySports. Jen couldn't quite get the wing to work so, Charlie George hooked me up while we traded tri stories and  I chatted with Frances about race plans.

Watched this video:


THURSDAY  ----------

6:10am    Swim at Banks Channel. Ace and I and a few others swam with the current south for 10 minutes and back to the start (against the tide) for 15 minutes. Good hard effort at race pace as the sun rose over Wrightsville Beach. Glassy conditions and cool water. Love.

9:30am    Taught a yoga class. It was a weird morning. Some guy got miffed at me pre-class and I had to think kind, namaste thoughts in his direction.  PLUS, I was going to do a video for class and got incredibly freaked out by Wai Lana's contortions and outfits. Halfway through, I turned off the giant video screen and did a couple of my own flows.

10:30am - 3:00pm Most productive I've ever been. Cleaned out email inbox. Thought about the run. Prioritized tasks for next week. Thought about the after-party. Wrote a few thank you notes. Imagined my calmness at the swim start. Straightened my desk piles. Walked through Transition in my head. Tasked out a few work projects. Imagined the well being dry at the finish. 

8:35pm     In the bed.

FRIDAY   ------------

5:45a    Slept late! Walked two times around the block with my neighbor (less than a mile). Cut gardenias. Drank a smoothie. Read the paper.

7:00a    Met Jen for coffee at the new Starbucks. Yum. Listened to her convince me that I'm an a$$ kicking machine and that I should expect to blow my goals out of the water. I believe. Here are my time predictions:

8:00am  Cooked up a chicken and rice casserole and an orzo, tomato and spinach salad, made hard-boiled/baked eggs in the oven and gathered all my water bottles. Did a final load of laundry. 

We have a few hours in the car and the festivities begin. Look for my updates on twitter @GumboGirlBeth. Stop by the Amino Vital booth at the Athlete Village, too. I'll be there today from 2:30p - 3:30p! Here we go!   


Tour de Cure 2013

This past weekend - I participated in the NC Tour de Cure! I biked 82 miles - from Apex, NC to Pinehurst for the American Diabetes Association. My goal: to make a positive impact in the lives of those affected by diabetes. Each year it seems I choose to swim, bike or run for a cause. In the past, I've chosen Team in Training. It is close to my heart because my mom had leukemia. I ran my first half marathon in 2006 with TNT and rode my very first century ride last year in Asheville as part of the team.

Banks Wilson
This year, I was inspired to ride by BANKS WILSON.  He is the son of dear friends and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nearly three years ago. He is a busy five-year old who must account for every morsel he eats, who gets a minimum of four shots and pricks his finger at least seven times each day, and who is often left out of play dates and other activities because of his diagnosis. His parents, Elise and Joel, spend hours counting carbs, worrying about his blood sugar levels, battling their insurance company over doctor's visits and remain ever on-call in case of emergencies. 

Joel, Banks and Elise Wilson
In my lead-up to the ride, I asked Elise how they were doing. She recalled a moment a few months ago: Right before having one of his many daily insulin shots, Banks looked at me with tired eyes and said, "Mommy, when will they find a cure?"  As my eyes welled with tears, my answer to him was, "Soon, sweetie, I hope it will be soon."

Chances are, you also know someone who has been affected by diabetes -- there are 26 million in the US who suffer from it! On the day before my ride, I posted this request on my Facebook page:

I was amazed by the number of people who responded with the names of friends and family. On the morning of the ride, I wrote the names of those on that list down my left arm. True to my word - when I struggled around mile 63 (and 70 and 75), I read the names of these boys, girls, men and women, sisters, friends, fathers, mothers, husbands and wives. Out loud. I spelled their names backwards and forwards. I prayed for their families (not out loud).   

I also thought of those parents who have to go the extra mile to count carbs, to be on-call, to endure the worry and the stigma and the.....extra. When I pulled into the finish line, I looked down at my bike computer. It read: 79.8 miles. What?!  I had promised to ride 82 miles for Banks, Maddie, Turner, David, Lorie, Beulah, Patricia, Molly, Mary, Michael, Mark, Amelia, Richard and Andrew. I would not let them down. I circled the parking lot and headed back out. 

I also met some amazing RED RIDERS - men and women who ride with diabetes. On Saturday night at the event party, we heard from Diana -- a red rider and member of the famous Cheetah team of cyclists in Raleigh.  She told her story of doing what she loves despite crashes (of the cycling and the blood sugar kind). She takes it all in stride and has learned to live and love and ride without this disease taking control of her life. Until they find a cure, the funds we raise can help families take control of their lives so it won't take over theirs.  
With your help, we reached the goal! I even raised the bar to $820 in the last week and you help meet and beat it!  You raised almost $1000. Our team raised over $9500 and we set a record for first-year team fundraising. 

With your help, I will do it again next year. I'm aiming to raise twice as much money and do twice the distance in two days! I'll ride to Pinehurst, spend the night and ride back to the Triangle the next day!

Banks and his sister, Lowman
With your help, we will fight for a future where a parent does not have to hear that their child has diabetes. A future where an adult does not have to face the uncertain times ahead after receiving a diabetes diagnosis. A future where you and I will know that we had a part in making this possible.

I believe Banks will see a cure in his lifetime. His mom, dad and little sister think so, too. With your donation the gap to a cure begins to close. Won’t you help me start a chain reaction?  You can still make a difference. MAKE A DONATION HERE or pass this on to someone who can!



Belews International 2013

I finished my first triathlon of the season! After missing the first sprint of the season, I was really looking forward to the challenge of my first swim/bike/run race. Plus, I feel like I've been studying forever - without the pressure - or the pressure relief -  of the exam. I wanted to test what I've been working on for the past six months! 
Belews Lake, NC
I did this race in 2012 and had a fairly good race. Back then, I was riding Lola and training by heart rate. My swim was okay, I had technical trouble on the ride (my chain fell off twice) and my run was crampy.This year was different - and better. I didn't want the swim to end, I raced with Lucinda and my run was four minutes faster!

Of course, the race always starts the day before. Erica, Jen and I loaded up the tri-wagon around noon on Friday and hit the road to Greensboro. Jen DJ'd with Spotify most of the way up and we heard everything from the Humpty Hump to Pat Benatar.  We headed to pick up our race packets at Off'n'Runnin' Sports where the pros at SetUp Events and the staff at the store treated us to run belts, socks and of course, water bottles as swag! We checked into the hotel about 5:00pm and then headed out to dinner at Pollo Pasta - at 5:30pm. (awesome!)
The one thing that I did that night that made me nervous was order chicken and rice. It is usually my go-to meal -- I have a great casserole recipe that is easy to make, that travels well and is semi-bland. This was NOT semi-bland. Think curry! The chicken was actually a garlicky rotisserie chicken - but the rice was not. I mostly ate around it - anxious about weird dreams and heartburn. 

I slept well and woke up the next morning excitedly calm (or peacefully excited - whichever). I ate breakfast before 6:00a - a small blueberry bagel and a cup of coffee. We loaded up bikes and bags and bottles and hit the road again for the race site at Belews Creek Marina about 45 minutes away.

Jen, Me and Erica

It was a beautiful day to race. The race is a 1,500-meter swim, a 27-mile bike ride and a 10-kilometer run. The water was 65-68 degrees and wetsuit legal. It was sunny, in the low 50s at race start and a bit windy (but so is every race). By the time we got to the run, the temp was in the mid-sixties and climbing.  

Random Fastees
We set up in transition and donned our wetsuits. The swim start is different than most open water tris where wave starts by age group seem to be the norm. For this one, there is a time trial start based on your pace-per-100-yard average. Each swimmer is paired with another athlete with a similar pace and sent off in 15-second increments. We lined up on a floating dock two-by-two and inched forward every 15 seconds. Most swimmers dove off the dock. As we stepped up to the start line, though,  I actually sat down on the edge - just like I do every Tuesday and Thursday at the pool. When the starter said 3-2-1-Go! I jumped in, did two breast stroke kicks and took off. My goggles stayed in place and actually positioned myself to draft off my partner for about 50 yards. 

The swim was beautiful. I really didn't want it to end. I felt smooth and strong. I remembered to draft off people's feet when I could and worked on finishing my stroke at my hip. At one point, I came up on a father and son team. The father was swimming with a small inflatable boat behind him, carrying his son! We were approaching a turn buoy and my one thought GO NOW! I knew if I didn't make it first, I'd have to clear the buoy and the boat. I picked up my pace for 50 yards and was able to pass.

Jen was Out on the Bike While I was Lolly-Gagging in T1
If I could choose a do-over, I'd probably choose both transitions. I didn't want it bad enough. I walk-jogged to my bike - in part because I wanted to bring my heart rate down and in part because it was uphill. My main glitch in T1 was my wetsuit - and not because it was hard to take off, but because it came off with ease - and took my chip right off my ankle! The velcro didn't even release on the ankle strap. It slipped right off and landed near my bike. I scooped it up and attached back on my ankle. 

My bike was great. If you're planning on doing this race - whether as a sprint or international - don't be intimidated by the hill coming out of transition. You can do it. It only looks straight up a cliff. Remember to set your gears to the small ring up front and you'll climb right up. 

The ride is two long loops. I mentally handled the crosswind which offered no help on either side of the loop - after all, there is usually wind in all directions here on the coast. My challenge, of course, was the hills, but Lucinda handled the uphills and the downhills like a champ. There is a nearly 125 foot climb in a mile and half at miles 12 and 26. I kept my effort steady and my cadence smooth. I kept thinking, stick your foot to the top of your shoe and was able to pass two (younger) girls ahead of me.

Elevation for the Ride

Marblized, not Concrete

The weirdest thing to happen on the bike - right after that first big hill - was a loss of power. I felt as if my legs would not turn over. I freaked out a little bit as those same two girls passed me. My legs felt like they were filled with concrete. About that time my Garmin beeped at me - TIME ALERT! Aha! I realized I was low on calories. It had probably signaled me to drink during the downhill or uphill of 12-mile giant and I missed it. For the next few miles I sipped at my concoction of Amino Vital and felt MUCH better. I listened for my alert and finished my aero bottle by the end of the ride.

Transition 2 was slow and deliberate. Again, I wish for a do-over. But, it set me up for a good run.  My plan was to run a progressive effort - easy for two,  moderate for two, hard to the finish. I took off -- up the steep incline and then up a long slower climb (109 feet in less than half a mile). My heart rate in that first mile was super high - but it leveled off and I felt strong. The hilly course was challenging and the temps were climbing. At mile three I remembered thinking: stop running scared. I realized I was running conservatively on a downhill - worried putting on the brakes for the downhill, worried about cramping, worried about having enough for the finish. Stop running scared! Take advantage of the downhills, deal with the side stitch if it happens and worry about the finish when you fall across it!

At mile 4.5, a woman in my age-group passed me. I realized going hard included staying with her. I moved in behind her on the last uphill and hung tight for over half a mile. She was holding 7:30-8:00 min/mile pace. The hill caught me and she pulled away. The saving grace of this race is that the long slow uphill on the way out, turns into a long, swift downhill to the finish. I picked it up when I hit the downhill and watched her back as she pulled away. I finished in 54min41 seconds - my fastest triathlon 10K (by about four minutes)!

My most satisfying moment was not crossing the finish line, or sipping icy cold water after the run or even the finisher's pint glass at the line. Twenty minutes later as I was breaking down transition, I looked at my watch and nearly cried. It read 2:55:46. My heart fluttered in disbelief. My goal was to finish in 3:00:23. I was five minutes faster than I thought I could be and I took nearly 15 minutes off my time from 2012. I was thrilled.  

Pooped out Peeps
I found out later that my carrot on the run was the winner in our age-group.  I finished third! Jen finished first and Erica finished fourth.  We had a great time at the awards ceremony and a hilarious road trip home. I can't wait til the next race! 

Curtsy for the Podium!